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Product advertising and viral stealth marketing in online videos: A description and comparison of comments on YouTube

Lars Michael Wendt (University of Hildesheim, Hildesheim, Germany)
Joachim Griesbaum (University of Hildesheim, Hildesheim, Germany)
Ralph Kölle (University of Hildesheim, Hildesheim, Germany)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 16 May 2016




In the context of social media marketing, so called viral stealth videos (VSVs) often attract as much or even more attention than videos that directly advertise products (product advertising video (PAV)). However, beyond this, the product or brand-related impact of such videos is not so clear. In this context, the purpose of this paper is to investigate brand perception of PAVs and VSVs in YouTube.


The research design is based on an examination of comments of six VSVs and six PAVs on YouTube. Therefore, the content of 1,080 posts was analyzed to capture the topic, the attitude toward the video and the pragmatic intent of posts.


Results indicate that there are strong differences with regard to users ' perception of the two analyzed video type segments. The content of VSVs is clearly recognized as positive more often than the content of PAVs. In contrast, only PAVs evoke substantial brand awareness but receive rather mixed results with regards to brand assessment.

Research limitations/implications

As a whole, the study is widely descriptive and of explorative value. Nevertheless, the research design can be estimated as a first step to measure the brand-related impact of online videos. Ideally, the data generated in the investigation should be combined with traffic and conversion data of the brands’ websites to get an encompassing picture of the marketing related impact of the investigated online videos.

Practical implications

Seen from a marketers’ perspective, one can recommend PAVs over VSVs as there are hardly any brand-related impacts of VSVs visible in online communication. PAVs are perceived less positively but they are able to evoke brand awareness at least.


According to the authors’ knowledge this investigation is one of only a few studies that analyzes real online communication in the context of video-based online marketing.



Wendt, L.M., Griesbaum, J. and Kölle, R. (2016), "Product advertising and viral stealth marketing in online videos: A description and comparison of comments on YouTube", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 68 No. 3, pp. 250-264.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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